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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Cricket: New Zealand to tour Pakistan twice next season

New Zealand announces back-to-back tours next season, after its controversial decision to cancel this year’s tour on security grounds.

New Zealand will tour Pakistan twice next season, including once to compensate for abandoned tour earlier this year, the cricket boards of both countries said on Monday.

New Zealand aborted its limited-overs tour to Pakistan in September due to security fears just before the toss in the first one-day international was due to take place at Rawalpindi.

England followed the New Zealand decision by also abandoning its short tour to Pakistan just before the Twenty20 World Cup in October.

The cancellations came as a massive blow to Pakistan’s hopes of staging regular international cricket and infuriated the Pakistan cricket board (PCB), whose chairman Ramiz Raja alleged that Pakistan had been “used and binned” by the “Western bloc”.

Last month, Raja and his New Zealand counterpart Martin Snedden met in Dubai to build bridges between the boards.

New Zealand will tour Pakistan in December 2022 to play two test matches as part of the World Test Championship and will also play three One Day International or ODIs which will count towards qualification for the 2023 World Cup in India.

In April 2023, New Zealand will tour again to play five ODIs and five Twenty20 matches. Dates and venues have not been determined.

Pakistan’s Asif Ali, (centre), and Shoaib Malik greet New Zealand’s players at the end of the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan in UAE [File: Aijaz Rahi/AP]

“Our respective chairmen … had very fruitful and constructive discussions while in Dubai, further strengthening the bond between the two organisations,” New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said in a statement. “It’s good to be going back.”

The exact dates of the matches would be finalised later.

“I am pleased with the outcomes of our discussions and negotiations, and thank Martin Snedden and his board for their understanding and support,” Raja said in a statement.

“This reflects the strong, cordial and historic relations the two boards have and reconfirms Pakistan’s status as an important member of the cricket fraternity.”

Pakistan is now set to host Australia, West Indies, England and New Zealand between March 2022 and April 2023 for eight test matches, 14 ODIs and 13 Twenty20s.

International teams had mostly stayed away from Pakistan since an armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians. That forced Pakistan’s national teams to play “home” matches outside the country for more than six years.

Pakistan this month swept West Indies in a three-match T20 series. A three-match ODI series between the same sides was postponed to next June due to a coronavirus outbreak on the West Indies team.


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